H O U S T O N, Oct. 3 -- Lawyers for a son of late oil man J. Howard Marshall II told jurors today they would prove whether former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith loved her elderly husband or just his fortune.
Smith, 32, and her disinherited stepson, J. Howard Marshall III,63, sued 61-year-old E. Pierce Marshall for a piece of an estatethat is valued at anywhere from $48 million to $1.6 billion. PierceMarshall asserts that he is the sole heir of his father, who diedat the age of 90.
Six Wills, Seven Trusts
The plaintiffs maintained in opening statements Monday thatPierce Marshall schemed to steal the estate for himself, butattorney Rusty Hardin said today that the evidence would show hisclient did not defraud anyone.
“Our evidence will be whether Vickie Marshall, no matter howmany tears yesterday, loved him [J. Howard Marshall II] and how shetreated him,” Hardin said, referring to Smith by her married name. She was born Vickie Lynn.
“This case is not about Pierce Marshall, as much as they want itto be. Our evidence will be that it is about J. Howard MarshallII’s estate and how he wanted it to be,” Hardin said.
Hardin represents Marshall Petroleum Inc., a holding company forsome of Howard Marshall II’s assets.
Pierce Marshall points to six wills and seven trusts to supporthis claim to the estate. The assertions are untrue, say Smith andHoward Marshall III, who argue the legal paperwork is fraudulentand was foisted upon Howard Marshall II when he was not mentallycompetent.
Smith and the tycoon, who by then used a wheelchair, met at aHouston strip club and began dating in 1991.
Will Jury Hear Recent Ruling
The couple married in 1994, when she was 26 and he was 89. Smithalleges that Howard Marshall II promised her half of his fortune inexchange for her hand in marriage.
During opening arguments on Monday, Smith’s lawyers portrayedthe former stripper and nude model as marrying the oil tycoonsolely out of love.